Saturday, November 26

Autumnal Thoughts

In for a mood of prophetic dread?

Well then, you should read John Derbyshire's latest offering of holiday cheer. I remember too that not long ago, even the steadfastly hopeful Peggy Noonan was sharing a cup of bitters as well.

As H.G. Wells famously wrote (in 1920 --notably before atomic weapons, but after the modern horrors of The Great War), "Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe". But when you consider the catastrophes our ancestors endured, which should inform any conservative's analysis of the future, it ought to be considered self-evident that we've never had it so good. Like Reagan's, mine is a rational optimism, and that's really what we need to be hearing from political leaders. But to convince and inspire others, first you must believe it. And that's admittedly hard, when the apparent job of the reporter in this age is to put the most pessimistic spin on the news as possible.

But be of good cheer. The old systems of centralized learning and centralized news gathering are waning. Education and spiritual strength to confront whatever catastrophes are over our horizon will be found in the communications between people made possible by our new powers of technology.

If you want to know the history that informs a belief that what we face today is nothing like the hardships our ancestors endured, struggles that with each passing day slip beyond living memory, you have to turn to the Web. It'll be glossed over in school, replaced by generous servings of self-flagellation.

Those who write the "first rough draft of history" should at least acknowledge recent history, even if they can't seem to remember anything that happened earlier than about 1968.

Meanwhile, the Web stores it all, and we make the connections...

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